We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is an Anticodon?

By Victoria Blackburn
Updated: May 21, 2024

Within cells, proteins are made through the process of translation. During this process, the DNA in the nucleus of the cell is transcribed into RNA, which is then translated to make protein molecules from free amino acids found in the cell. There are three types of RNA involved in translation, which are: messenger RNA (mRNA), ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and transfer RNA (tRNA). The role of the anticodon is to ensure that amino acids in the protein being translated are linked together in the proper order, to ensure proper function of the protein. Without anticodons, protein synthesis could not occur.

DNA is made of four nucleotide bases, called A, T, C and G. The combination of these bases makes up our genetic code. DNA is read using triplet codes, which are sets of three bases of DNA, called codons. Each codon corresponds to one amino acid, which form the building blocks for every protein in the body. An anticodon is a region of transfer RNA, or tRNA, that is complimentary to a codon on the strand of mRNA that is being translated.

To create protein in the cells, DNA must be “read” and protein must be synthesized. To do this, DNA is first transcribed into messenger RNA, or mRNA, a type of genetic information that is the blueprint for the protein. mRNA also contains triplet codes, called codons, that give the amino acid sequence within each specific protein. Each codon is complimentary to an anticodon that is found on a tRNA molecule. The anticodon of the tRNA determines which amino acid is brought to be attached to the growing protein.

There are four nucleotides in RNA that correspond to the nucleotides in DNA. They are designated by A, U, C and G. Each codon is made up of three nucleotides, so the number of potential codons to code for an amino acid is 64. Since there 64 possible codons to represent only 20 different amino acids in the body, each amino acid is represented by more than one codon and anticodon. The codon for each amino is well-known.

Although more than one codon may correspond to a single amino acid, the first two bases in the triplet codon are identical or similar for each amino acid. For example, two codons coding for the amino acid leucine are UUA and UUG, which differ only in the third base of the triplet. This is a safeguard to prevent mistakes in synthesizing proteins. Since the anticodon must “read” the codon to bring the proper amino acid, as long as the first two parts of the triplet code are correct, the proper amino acid will be added onto the protein. This theory is known as the wobble hypothesis, and is commonly accepted to describe the interaction between the codon and anticodon in all known organisms.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.